Research and audits carried out by Verité have determined that both legal guestworkers and undocumented immigrants are extremely vulnerable to exploitation, including forced labor and human trafficking, in the United States. This vulnerability is heightened when laws protecting immigrant workers are weakened or go unenforced, as well as in areas in which there are crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, who are forced to go underground and seek employment through labor brokers (see Undocumented Workers in the US Garment Sector: An Assessment and Guide for Brands and Immigrant Workers in US Agriculture: The Role of Labor Brokers in Vulnerability to Forced Labor).
Unaccompanied children fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking in the U.S., and if sent back to their home countries, are at an elevated risk of trafficking and violence (see Unaccompanied Children: Violence and Conditions in Central American Agriculture Linked to Border Crisis).
On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Verité and Eileen Fisher held a meeting with major garment brands, agricultural companies, and retailers to discuss risks related to vulnerable immigrant workers employed in the U.S. and ways in which companies can engage to reduce these risks in their supply chains.
Brands learned from experts and participated in a facilitated conversation on potential opportunities for engagement. Eileen Fisher and other brands recognized the vulnerability of immigrant workers in the U.S. and the need for company action, both to ensure that U.S. policy protects immigrant workers, who are an essential part of the workforce, and to ensure that vulnerable immigrant workers employed in their supply chains are protected from labor exploitation.
Verité will continue to engage with brands, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), and the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG) to ensure that the labor rights of immigrant workers are protected.
For more information contact Quinn Kepes.